Christina Bothwell at work in her studio.
GLASS: What are you working on?
Christina Bothwell: My latest body of work involves using bits of taxidermy. In the photo, I’m working on a piece that will become a woman holding an owl. Beneath the owl’s abdomen will be a small human baby. The woman will have taxidermied geese feet instead of human feet because I’m playing around with the idea of creating the wife and child Icarus might have had. The idea initially came from seeing a 1903 Kathe Kollwitz etching of a woman holding a dead child. I thought of making a piece of a woman holding a sleeping bird that held an infant inside its body.
I like incorporating found objects into my work, but using taxidermy and animal parts is a new thing for me. For a long time the idea of taxidermy made me feel kind of queasy, but this past winter I saw a taxidermied blue jay at a child’s birthday party and it was so beautiful I couldn’t stop thinking of it. What started out as consumer lust eventually led to thinking about how I could add that element to my work and maybe capture some of that same quality that moved me in the blue jay.
I feel very excited about using taxidermy but was initially stymied as to how to go about learning the process. I live in an area where men dominate the taxidermy market, and I’m not big on hunting. Actually, the idea of disembowelling even roadkill sort of puts me off! I was finally fortunate to find a
fabulous taxidermy artist named Sarina Brewer online who was willing to sell me leftover bits from her studio. She only taxidermies roadkill so I don’t even have to feel that I’m contributing to a market that could incur bad karma! I’m planning on making some ceiling-hung pieces incorporating clay, cast glass, taxidermy, and whatever else a particular piece seems to call for. I’m also working on some groups of figures.
Christina Bothwell, DeerBuny, 2009. H 24, W 28, D 14 in.
GLASS: What artwork have you seen recently that inspired you?
Christina: I’d say that this taxidermy artist, Sarina Brewer, definitely inspires me, as well as the the Brooklyn-based sculptor Hans van Meeuwen. I also like the paintings of Marion Peck. I often cruise Ebay for photos of vintage toys for inspiration. I like anything that makes me keep looking and looking. Sometimes things that are not considered “art” fall into that category, such as pieces of old machinery, antique medical books, or what my son calls, “broken houses.” When I first saw Hans van Meeuwen’s pieces, I was so inspired I couldn’t sleep. He makes installations and sculptures that are really well-conceived and thought-provoking, and sometimes even laugh-out-loud funny! He exhibits at Cristinerose Gallery in New York. Seeing his work really got me thinking more about creating environments rather than just individual, static pieces.
GLASS: Where is it possible to see your work on exhibit?
Christina: I’m currently having a solo exhibition at Heller Gallery in New York City that runs through August 1. For GlassWeekend at Wheaton Arts in Millville, New Jersey, I’ll have a couple of pieces in a show called “Rising Stars” which is open now, and runs through October. Most of the work I’m making at the moment is slated for an exhibit at the Dixon Gallery, an art museum in Memphis, Tennessee, which will open in Spring 2010. Habatat Chicago is very involved in the organizing of that show.